Prospects of microgreens as budding living functional food: Breeding and biofortification through OMICS and other approaches for nutritional security

Front Genet. 2023 Jan 25:14:1053810. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2023.1053810. eCollection 2023.


Nutrient deficiency has resulted in impaired growth and development of the population globally. Microgreens are considered immature greens (required light for photosynthesis and growing medium) and developed from the seeds of vegetables, legumes, herbs, and cereals. These are considered "living superfood/functional food" due to the presence of chlorophyll, beta carotene, lutein, and minerals like magnesium (Mg), Potassium (K), Phosphorus (P), and Calcium (Ca). Microgreens are rich at the nutritional level and contain several phytoactive compounds (carotenoids, phenols, glucosinolates, polysterols) that are helpful for human health on Earth and in space due to their anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic properties. Microgreens can be used as plant-based nutritive vegetarian foods that will be fruitful as a nourishing constituent in the food industryfor garnish purposes, complement flavor, texture, and color to salads, soups, flat-breads, pizzas, and sandwiches (substitute to lettuce in tacos, sandwich, burger). Good handling practices may enhance microgreens'stability, storage, and shelf-life under appropriate conditions, including light, temperature, nutrients, humidity, and substrate. Moreover, the substrate may be a nutritive liquid solution (hydroponic system) or solid medium (coco peat, coconut fiber, coir dust and husks, sand, vermicompost, sugarcane filter cake, etc.) based on a variety of microgreens. However integrated multiomics approaches alongwith nutriomics and foodomics may be explored and utilized to identify and breed most potential microgreen genotypes, biofortify including increasing the nutritional content (macro-elements:K, Ca and Mg; oligo-elements: Fe and Zn and antioxidant activity) and microgreens related other traits viz., fast growth, good nutritional values, high germination percentage, and appropriate shelf-life through the implementation of integrated approaches includes genomics, transcriptomics, sequencing-based approaches, molecular breeding, machine learning, nanoparticles, and seed priming strategiesetc.

Keywords: OMICS; biofortification; functional food; microgreen; nutrition; shelf life.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

The study was supported by School of Agricultural Sciences, Sharda University, and ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi.